Here’s a snippet of what they’re saying over in Boston about today’s 9-player blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers:
It would be the biggest Red Sox trade since Babe Ruth was dealt to the Yankees for cash in 1920. Hope this one works out better. On Friday night, the Red Sox were on the verge of dealing Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford (plus journeyman Nick Punto), and their accompanying fat paychecks to the free-spending Dodgers for first baseman James Loney and a bunch of young guys you’ve never heard of.
You want them to blow it up?
This would be blowing it up.
The prospective blockbuster would signify a white flag on this horrible season. More than that, it would mark the end of a failed era of big names, big salaries, big egos, and maddening underachievement.
The trade of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto has been portrayed in some circles as ridding the clubhouse of malcontents.
That is not true. It was ridding the team of three bad contracts, not necessarily bad people.
That is particularly true of Crawford. There was not one player on the roster — not one — who worked harder at getting better than Crawford. He came with only the best intentions, he was a good teammate and he did everything asked of him without complaint.
He played two games in 2011 before Terry Francona dropped him down from second to seventh in the batting order. That disrespect was something he never could understand. They Red Sox, in essence, gave him $142 million then showed their lack of faith in him after seven at-bats.
Crawford didn’t ask to get hurt. He didn’t ask for surgery on his wrist and his elbow. He didn’t ask to be the kind of player who had no natural fit in the Red Sox lineup. He didn’t ask for “fans” to yell racist remarks at him. He just wanted to play baseball.
Here’s hoping he’s the National League MVP next season.
A payroll restart would come as welcome relief for a club that has not won a playoff game since 2008 and has had a terrible track record of free agent signings, beginning with John Lackey and Mike Cameron after the 2009 season and then going hog-wild after 2010, when it traded for Gonzalez and signed Crawford. Three top prospects went to San Diego for Gonzalez, who in 2011 signed a seven-year extension worth $154 million through 2018. Crawford’s deal was a seven-year deal worth $142 million that ran through 2017, while Beckett re-upped in April 2010 for a four-year deal worth $68 million.
Beckett became persona non grata last offseason when he was the poster boy for the beer-and-fried-chicken debacle that was the backdrop for the club’s historic September collapse. His unapologetic and contrarian personality has not played well this year, nor have his pitching efforts as he has posted a 5-11 record and 5.23 ERA.
Gonzalez had a good first season, but only lately this season did he begin to approach the big power and batting average results the club desired. What’s more, when Gonzalez’ name and cellphone got dragged into the alleged Kelly Shoppach text to owners last month about clubhouse dissatisfaction, he likely drifted toward the outer bounds of the circle of trust within the ballclub.
Crawford’s first season was a bust, and while he tried to come back this year, a succession of unforeseen injuries completely hindered him.
It already feels like a new day, which is exactly what the franchise needs. The focus of this deal from a PR standpoint should be Beckett, because removing him from the equation immediately makes the club about 25 percent more likable.
The beer-and-chicken ringleader is gone. No more golf on precious off days following injuries. No more tone-deaf complaints suggesting we don’t understand the importance of family. No more swearing on NESN following lousy outings or conducting defiant interviews refusing to accept responsibility for any his actions.
No more of one of the most reviled Red Sox players of the last decade.
The megadeal isn’t without a fair share of risk. Red Sox fans who actually believe Gonzalez can’t handle the pressure of Boston based on this season are in for a rude awakening. He’s going to be an MVP candidate in Los Angeles, and you can take that one to the bank.
Replacing him won’t be remotely easy. His power/patience combo places him among the elite 15 hitters in the game.
As for Crawford, he hasn’t delivered on his $142 million deal yet, but with a surgically repaired elbow, could easily regain his prior form. Plus, he actually cared and worked his butt off. He wasn’t part of the problem.